Azara Blog: Japan and France looking into new supersonic plane

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Date published: 2005/06/15

The BBC says:

Japan and France are to work together to develop a successor to the retired supersonic jet aircraft Concorde.

Companies from the countries will split an investment of $1.84m (£1.01m) a year for research over the next three years, Japan's trade ministry said.

The agreement to develop the new passenger plane was signed at the Paris Air Show, Japan added.

The new plane will have 300 seats and cut the flight time between New York and Tokyo to six hours, reports said.

"This is truly significant industrial co-operation," Japan's Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said.

"Bringing their respective advantages together... should lead to the ability to offer highly-advanced aircraft and services in the future."

The ministry added that Japan had successfully tested an engine that could theoretically reach speeds of up to five times the speed of sound.

Concorde flew at mach 2 - twice the speed of sound.

It never recouped the huge amounts invested in it by the time it was taken out of service, after 34 years, in 2003.

However, France will bring its own knowledge of the aircraft to the table as French airline Air France was one half of the original Concorde team.

The deal also represents a break with Japan's habit of working with US firms.

"To research closely in this area with the Europeans does represent something new," said Yoshio Watanabe, an official with The Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies, which is heading the new initiative in Japan.

Japan and France (with Europe) are in the midst of a bitter battle over the next-generation fusion site location, so it's good to see them cooperating on such a significant technological project. And it's also hard to imagine any other European country with an appetite for such a project. Any such proposal in Britain would bring hoots of derision (especially from the so-called environmentalists). France, it seems, still has some vision for the future. Unlike Britain.

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